Fedor Emelianenko

Pic by SHERDOG.COM -click for source- Credit: Taro Irei

Fedor is still considered by some to be one, if not the best MMA fighter of all time. As I have said before, if you have never fought in the UFC on the biggest stage of them all, then I can’t consider you one of the greatest of all time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from Fedor. He was undefeated for nearly a decade, during which time he was widely considered the best heavyweight fighter in mixed martial arts.

I still believe that if Fedor would’ve came over in 2005-2006 when Tim Sylvia was the UFC champ, that he could’ve beat Sylvia early (instead of after Sylvia was already washed up), and ran the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Young fans and some fighters now a days know the name Fedor, but don’t remember him fighting. I have been watching MMA for way too long and didn’t even hear the name Fedor until 2003, when my buddy saw him defeat Gary Goodridge at Pride Total Elimination 2003.

Pride was a big thing back then, but was very hard for me too watch. So when my friends kept telling me about this guy named Fedor, I ignored them all until 2003 when my buddy called me up telling me about this guy soccer kicking Goodridge in the face and getting the TKO with kicks and punches.

My same friend then sent me some tapes (tape trading, true/hardcore fans know what I mean) from Pride 21, 23 and 25 where I witnessed this MMA myth named Fedor destroy top names like Semmy Schilt, Heath Herring (who was a big name back then), and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (which stopped a 13 fight winning streak). I was very familiar with “Big Nog” back then, and to watch him get defeated by this guy I have never heard of, definitely put Fedor on my radar.

When I heard about Pride Total Elimination 2004 and the Pride FC 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix, I was intent on figuring out a way to give my eyes the joy of watching a guy who I knew very well in Mark Coleman, fighting a guy who I was just introduced to not too long ago. What happened in that fight shocked me. I wasn’t shocked when Coleman started getting the best of Fedor, I was shocked when Fedor latched onto Coleman’s arm and tapped him out in the first round. The sad part is, this wouldn’t be the last time he would arm-bar Coleman.

Fedor would go on to defeat Kevin Randleman via kimura in the first round in the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals. Fedor took out both guys in the same night. He would go on defeating Naoya Ogawa via arm-bar in the first round at Pride Final Conflict 2004 winning the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinal.

This set up a huge rematch that night between Fedor and “Big Nog” in the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Final. Sadly the fight would disappoint and end in a NC due to an accidental headbutt. The rematch would be made 4 months later at Pride Shockwave 2004 where Fedor would beat Nogueira by unanimous decision to win the PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix Final and Unified the Pride Interim Heavyweight Championship.

“The Fedor Era” 

I’m not taking anything away from the fans of MMA  but the so called “Fedor era” or when fans started talking about him, wasn’t until he defeated a washed up Tim Sylvia in 2008. By this time Fedor had already beat Mark Coleman again (that second arm-bar I mentioned earlier), Mirko Filipović (Cro-cop), Matt Lindland, and Mark Hunt.

Some fans still didn’t know who Fedor was until his next fight where he again defeated a washed up UFC fighter in Andrei Arlovski and knocked him out in the first round.

I still hate to this day when people tell me how badass Fedor was in Strikeforce. For all of you living under a rock, Fedor only won one fight under their banner, and that’s when he was almost beaten by Brett Rodgers before knocking his head off.

I actually consider Strikeforce to be the brand that ended the good name of Fedor. Fedor was 32-1 and on a 28 fight winning streak with one NC when he stepped up against top submission grappler Fabricio Werdum in 2010. Fedor is a very aggressive fighter which I’ve always enjoyed, but this would be the time where it would backfire.

Fedor dropped Werdum early, but followed him to the mat, which I still to this day consider a very dumb move. As Fedor jumped into Werdum’s guard, I was actually yelling at him to get out of there as I had a bad feeling he was going to get tapped out, and sure enough that’s exactly what happened. Werdum not only got the triangle submission victory, was known as the man to beat Fedor in his Prime, but he rebooted his own career and in my opinion, ended the Fedor era.

Strikeforce set up a huge 2011 Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament with all intentions of seeing Fedor in the finals. Sadly enough, the man I call “The Spoiler” (Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva) had other plans for “The Last Emperor.” Silva would dominate Fedor on the ground and win the fight with dominate ground-and-pound, giving Fedor his second straight loss, the first time in his career.

Fedor would not end up in the Grand Prix finals, but instead, get an awesome fight with Dan Henderson. This fight had fire works written all over it and was highly anticipated by hardcore, and new MMA fans from all over the world.

Fedor hit Hendo with a hard shot early, but Hendo was able to recover with a great reversal. He then took Fedor’s back and threw a dangerous shot underneath the right arm of Fedor as he was trying to stand up.

The shot landed hard, Fedor’s face hit the mat, and Henderson gave Fedor his third straight loss, ending his Strikeforce career. Fedor would end his fighting career going on a 3 fight winning streak beating washed up fighters Jeff Monson, Satoshi Ishii, and Pedro Rizzo in other lower level MMA organizations.

My dream fight that could’ve happened, but never did: Josh Barnett vs. Fedor in the Strikeforce Grand Prix Final. “DC” vs. Fedor would’ve been an awesome fight as well.

~ Final Thought ~

Fedor ruined his own legacy by being too greedy when it came to the business end of the sport. The UFC tried to stage him up a few times, but him and his management team always wanted more than they needed. At one point the UFC offered him the biggest contract they have ever offered an MMA fighter, and still it was denied. Fedor and his team wanted 50% of every PPV that Fedor appeared on, and requested an abundant amount of cash.

Dana White and the UFC was trying to sign him for us the fans, and all Fedor cared about was himself. I still think he is the most selfish MMA fighter of all time, and he ruined his own legacy by caring too much for himself and not enough about the fans that made him. Fedor will always have an asterisk next to his name for being one of the greatest of all time in my opinion because he never fought in the UFC.

That will never take away from his accomplishments, and fans will always remember that:

  • PRIDE Fighting Championships
    • PRIDE World Heavyweight Championship (One time; Last)
    • PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight World Grand Prix Champion
  • Fighting Network RINGS
    • RINGS Openweight Championship (One time; Last)
    • RINGS 2001 Absolute Class Tournament Winner
    • RINGS 2001 Openweight Title Tournament Winner
  • World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts
    • WAMMA Heavyweight Championship (One time; First; Last)
  • Nikkan Sports
    • 2012 Mixed Martial Arts MVP
  • Sports Illustrated
    • 2000s Fighter of the Decade
    • 2000s Fight of the Decade vs. Mirko Filipović on August 28, 2005
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Andrei Arlovski on January 24